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American Research Journal of Humanities Social Science (ARJHSS)R)                                            2021

                                American Research Journal of Humanities Social Science (ARJHSS)

                                                                                      E-ISSN: 2378-702X
                                                                          Volume-04, Issue-09, pp-144-152

Research Paper                                                                               Open        Access

     Zainab Mohammed Alwan Al-Juboori1* Mohammed Hasen Al-Thaqafiy
            PhD Student, Azman Hashim International Business School, UniversitiTeknologi Malaysia,
                                            Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
           General Director in Ministry of Education Saudi Arabia, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia,

ABSTRACT : Distance learning does not come without drawbacks and obstacles, such as restricted network
access and a lack of devices among students. We felt it was important to investigate the student's perdition
toward online education in Saudi Arabia due to the COVID-19. The outbreak of (COVID-19) has prompted
governments to take steps to prevent the disease's spreading. Shutting down schools and universities was one of
these actions. Hence, the procedures of teaching, learning, and evaluation were completely moved from face-to-
face to online. Adopting physical distancing and quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic has left the world
with schools' closure. This study examines the student's perception of Saudi higher education towards
compulsory online learning university courses during the pandemic of (COVID-19). Undergraduate students
were questioned to learn about their opinions on online education in Saudi Arabia. Other problems raised by
higher education students were a lack of face-to-face communication with the instructor, response time, and the
absence of conventional classroom socializing. Consequently, distance learning does not come without
obstacles, such as restricted network access and students' lack of technical knowledge. We felt it was important
to investigate the student's perception of online learning in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Online Learning, Student's Perception, COVID-19 Pandemic, Saudi Arabia

                                        I.       INTRODUCTION
          COVID-19 was designated a worldwide public health emergency of international concern by the World
Health Organization [1] on January 30, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11, 2020 [2]. The first case was
discovered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The virus has since spread to nearly every country on the
planet. The disease spread so quickly that the WHO designated COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of
International Concern on January 30, 2020. Nearly 3 million positive cases had been verified worldwide as of
April 2020, with approximately 200,000 deaths [1]. However, the Health Ministry confirmed the first two cases
of COVID-19 in Saudi on March 2, 2020. However, on July 2, 2021, the total numbers of cases of COVID-19 in
the country were 49,0464, with 7,848 deaths [3]. In reaction to the COVID-19, Saudi authorities closed all
educational institutions on March 10, 2020. According to demands from the Saudi government, higher education
institutions must begin planning for distant learning modalities, reschedule ongoing examinations, and provide
regular online services to their students until the COVID-19 situation is resolved. This sudden change becomes a
challenge for educators to quickly upgrade their skills in using technology required for distance teaching and
learning. The Ministry of Education (MOE) in Saudi Arabia uses television and social media to deliver
education to all ages. It has nominated about 127 administrators and teachers to provide regular instruction in
112 educational courses via 19 television channels (transmitting nationally from a classroom in Riyadh). The
government offers learners five options for online education [4].
          COVID-19, like so many other parts of daily life, has had a significant influence on students,
educators, and educational institutions worldwide [5]. The pandemic forced schools, colleges, and institutions
worldwide to close their doors so that students might practice distance learning [6]. Distance learning has
transformed education, and the phrase now encompasses a wide range of educational scenarios [7] [8]. Students
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are vulnerable to experiencing academics, socializing, and career failures during unusual times like the one
caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, using distance learning
technology to keep the academic calendar running has proven to be the best make-shift alternative [9] [10] [11].
However, with the invention of the internet and online learning programs like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google
Classroom, and others, distance learning protocols in online education have been revolutionized. Countries all
around the world have been closed because of the global COVID-19 outbreak. Closure of education was the first
step in limiting large meetings and imposing social distancing norms. However, transitioning effectively from a
traditional academic environment to a distance and virtual learning environment is not simple. At present time,
numerous barriers and problems are related to this rapid transition [9] [10] [11] [12] [13].
          Since Covid's initial arrival in Saudi Arabia, the influence on each sector has grown significantly,
particularly in the education sector. COVID-19 has had a significant influence on students, educators, and
educational organizations worldwide. Learning standards and materials required to be taught to emerge as policy
policies in the education sector. Socialization and education are important, many firms play a significant role in
the education industry, but there are still two barriers to overcome. Firstly, virtually nothing is controlled on a
broad scale regarding the effect and appropriateness of online training [14]. Secondly, depending on the wide
range of learning goals that control our instructional and instructive demands, their capacity to educate
successfully with care will most likely differ [15].

                                         II.       LEARNING ONLINE
          Online learning refers to information and communication technology to give lectures and share
educational content. In contrast, distance education refers to an approach to education in which learners and
lecturers are relatively isolated in time and place with no in-person interaction [16]. Web learning is an
important part of distance learning, intending to improve users' knowledge and learning quality [17]. According
to [17], one of the most important aspects of e-learning is personalizing it. E-learning efforts also give learning
tools to make technology material and interactions more accessible [18]. Online learning communities occur
due to e-learning interactions, where individuals, including friends, families, communities, and organizations,
could easily share information. In this regard, software platforms, as [19] point out, play a critical role in
promoting knowledge sharing in online communities. Teachers might also utilize it in online learning, according
to [20]. However, online learning can be effective in digitally advanced countries [21]. The learning process can
run efficiently due to the rapid development of technology nowadays. There are various examples of online
learning platforms, such as e-learning, Google Class, WhatsApp, Zoom, and other online platforms and internet
networks that can connect lecturers and students. That would allow the learning process to run it effectively as it
should despite the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19.

                             III.      Problem Statement and Research Gap
          During the past few years, Saudi Arabia has accomplished a very good improvement in using advanced
technologies. Most of the processes and procedures are done through the application, even the legal transaction.
That gave Saudi people advantages in using technologies in their daily lives, but the situation changes regarding
education. During the online learning procedures in Saudi Arabia, some issues had been faced by the students
and the instructor. The sudden change of the educational processes made students suffer, especially when that
change happens surprisingly where there is not enough time to train them on using the online platforms.
According to the ministry of education in Saudi Arabia, many issues have been raised during the first weeks,
which have been handled accordingly.
          Several educational institutions largely concentrated on transmitting educational content to the digital
world rather than focusing on online teaching and delivery techniques, as the unanticipated transition to online
learning became a measure of organizational agility [22]. Nonetheless, it acts as a reminder of academic
institutions' lack of resources and students' social exclusion, and insufficient awareness of internet access and
the latest technology, which hindered overall organizational responsiveness and students' ability to participate in
digital learning [23]. Another major issue with online learning is the lack of adequate interaction with teachers.
Concerns about any online course's material are generally handled with the appropriate course teacher through
the online platforms, which requires a response time [24]. Students who are physical learners will not be
interested in virtual classes. Another important gap in online learning is traditional classroom interaction.
Students only connect online and never meet one another in person. Therefore, a real-time exchange of ideas,
knowledge, and information is limited in the digital learning environment [25].
          Before the COVID-19 pandemic, previous literature has discussed the broader context of distance
online studies, such as economic shifts, political climate, and advances in information and communication
technology as some of the significant factor's major role in the growth and usage of innovative distance
education [26]. During the COVID-19 epidemic, however, online education/distance learning became the only
option for educational institutions to continue their academic activities. Various studies have been carried out
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regarding online learning while pandemic COVID-19 occurs. They Analyzed the Usage of Information
Technology in Distance Learning in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic [27]. Other studies have been
conducted regarding online learning during the covid-19 epidemic, such as [23] who examined students'
perceptions of online learning. The results indicated that students were unprepared for the new learning method
and that their devices did not support the abrupt high-tech changes. Moreover,
          [28] conducted a study entitled "Effectiveness of Online Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Period: An Online Survey" of home learning policy by adopting online learning utilizing the Zoom application
for face-to-face meetings and WhatsApp to give lecture materials and assignments for online learning media.
According to the findings, online learning using Zoom, and WhatsApp is only beneficial for theoretical and
conceptual courses and practical. However, it is less successful for online lecture practice and course subjects.
However, this learning still has some flaws, such as messages that are difficult to effectively reach students due
to lack of training to how to fully depend on the online platform as an essential method to learn. [29] suggest
future study to conduct a study in a different country than Pakistan to test the stunt attitudes or perception
toward online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic since their results could not be generalized to all
educational sectors all over the world due to the small sample size.

                             IV.       The Impact of COVID-19 on Education
          COVID-19 has not only caused public health problems but has also affected schooling around the
world. Closing schools and switching to online platforms may have slowed the spread of the virus, but they also
caused significant disruptions and disadvantages in the educational activity. [30] suggest that continuous
disruption and school closures may severely impact students' engagement and performance, particularly those
with learning disabilities. Individuals have suffered emotionally and mentally [31], with high anxiety levels
among students, instructors, and parents in particular [32]. The pressure on students to navigate and manage
their learning is one of the major causes of anxiety. At the same time, educators have had to transition from a
specific set of pedagogical knowledge and instruction abilities to understanding digital technologies they are
unfamiliar with [32]. When forced to move to online media, [33] warn of the harmful impact of information
overload on unfamiliar or inexperienced individuals with digital learning platforms. According to [34], school
closures have the following primary negative effects on education: 1) disruption of learning, 2) loss in nutrition,
3) uneven access to digital learning portals, 4) greater pressure on schools and school systems that stay open,
and 5) social isolation.

                                             V.       Research Aim
          This study aims to test the student‟s perception of their (skills, beliefs, self-directed, and interaction)
toward online learning. The present study examines the student's enthusiasm about attending lectures and
eventually impacted their outcomes, especially at universities that have implemented an online learning system
during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In addition to knowing effective learning platforms for undergraduate and
postgraduate students at the Saudi universities, namely, (King Abdulaziz University, King Fahd University of
Petroleum and Mining, King Saud University, Um Al-Qura University). Those universities were chosen as the
top five universities in Saudi Arabia according to the latest report of world university rankings in 2021. The data
collection was shown in Table 1

                                             VI.       Methodology
          This research is a quantitative descriptive study using survey methods conducted online (Google Form)
and translated to Arabic. The sample techniques were simple random sampling, where the sample of this study
is an active student in four Saudi Universities, as shown in Table 1. Primary data collection in this study was
carried out by distributing questionnaires online, and two hindered, and thirteen (213) returned questionaries
which were all usable with no missing values. The research instruments were adopted from [35] with 22 items
on a 5-point Likert scale. The data collection used the electronic platform „„Google Forms” questionnaires were
sent to four different universities in Saudi Arabia. The questionaries were targeted directed to a student from
different faculties. Questionnaires were conducted from July 2021 to September 2021.
Table 1: Response Rate
No      University Name                                         No of respondents         Percentage (%)
1       King Abdulaziz University                               50                        23.5
2       King Fahd University of Petroleum and Mining            61                        28.6
3       King Saud University                                    72                        33.8
4       Um Al-Qura University                                   30                        14.1
Total                                                           213                       100

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                                    VII.     Data Analysis and Results
          The results of an online survey were evaluated and expressed in percentages based on the frequency of
common student replies. The five-Likert scale was used to collect demographic data, given as a percentage of
students' replies. The researcher analyzed the data using the number of answers on each scale and its percentage
based on the data obtained. The descriptive analysis was also used to know the demographical information of
the respondent in terms of gender, age, academic year, and faculty. However, Table 2 and Table 3 show the

Table 2: Descriptive Analysis
Demographical        Criteria                                Number of Respondents          Percentage (%)

Gender                Male                                   112                            52.6
                      Female                                 101                            47.4
                      Total                                  213                            100
Age                   18-20                                  90                             42.3
                      21-25                                  123                            57.7
                      Total                                  213                            100
Academic Year         First Year                             50                             23.5
                      Second Year                            61                             28.6
                      Third Year                             88                             41.3
                      Fourth Year                            14                             6.6
                      Total                                  213                            100
Faculty               Islamic Studies                        44                             20.7
                      Languages                              19                             8.9
                      Educational Studies                    35                             16.4
                      Human Science                          19                             8.9
                      Computer Science                       30                             14.1
                      Economic and Management                51                             23.9
                      Medical                                3                              1.4
                      Engineering                            12                             5.7
                      Total                                  213                            100
Preferences           Online Teaching                        165                            77.5
                      Traditional Teaching                   48                             22.5
                      Total                                  213                            100

Undergraduate students were the targeted respondents for this study. However, based on the results shown in
Table1, 52.6% of the respondents were male, while 47.4 were female. 57.7% of the respondents were from the
age group of 21-25, while 42.3% were from the age group of 18-20. Moreover, most of the respondents were in
their third and second year 41.3 and 28.6 respectively, while the lowest percentage represented the fourth-year
student with only 6.6 %. According to the respondent's faculties, most of the respondents studied economics and
management with 23.9, while the second-highest percentage was 20.7% for Islamic studies. The lowest number
of respondents were from the medical studies, with only (3) responders at 1.4%. Lastly, the student's preference
regarding the learning techniques, 77.5% preferred online learning while only 22.5% preferred traditional
learning (face to face).
Table 3: Data Analysis
Indicators / Scales               Strongly        Disagree         Natural          Agree           Strongly
                                  Disagree                                                          Agree
Skills                            No      %       No      %        No       %       No      %       No     %
I can easily access the Internet 14       6.5     21      9.9      25       11.7 87         40.9 66        31
as needed for my studies
I         am        comfortable 5         2.3     15      7.1      17       7.9     93      43.7 83        39
communicating electronically
I am willing to actively 12               5.6     23      10.8     6        2.8     101     47.4 71        33.4
communicate my classmates
and instructors electronically
I feel that my technological 7            3.3     19      8.9      11       5.2     134     62.9 42        19.7
background and experience

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will be beneficial to my studies
I am comfortable with online         24   11.3   34       16     17   8      100   46.9   38    17.8
written communication
I possess sufficient computer        4    1.9    7        3.3    6    2.8    109   51.2   87    40.8
keyboarding skills for doing
online work
I feel comfortable composing         2    0.9    5        2.4    9    4.2    88    41.3   109   51.2
text on a computer in an online
learning environment
I am motivated by the material       7    3.3    10       4.7    25   11.7   106   49.8   65    30.5
in Internet activity outside of
Learning is the same in class        20   9.4    35       16.5   19   8.9    88    41.3   51    23.9
and at home on the Internet
I feel that I can improve my         34   16     64       30     35   16.4   71    33.3   9     4.3
listening skills the same using
the Internet and in class
I believe that learning on the       11   5.2    29       13.6   24   11.3   77    36.1   72    33.8
Internet outside of class is
more motivating than a regular
I believe a complete course can      12   5.6    34       16     19   8.9    93    43.7   55    25.8
be given by the Internet
without difficulty
I could pass a course on the         20   9.4    17       8      9    4.2    65    30.5   102   47.9
Internet without any teacher
I believe that material in an        64   30.1   71       33.3   22   10.3   44    20.7   12    5.6
Internet course is better
prepared than a traditional
When it comes to learning and        7    3.3    4        1.9    22   10.3   80    37.6   100   46.9
studying, I am a self-directed
In my studies, I am self-            8    3.8    22       10.3   11   5.2    98    46     74    34.7
disciplined and find it easy to
set     aside    reading      and
homework time
In my studies, I set goals and       2    0.9    20       9.4    4    1.9    107   50.2   80    37.6
have a high degree of initiative
I can manage my study time           10   4.7    19       8.9    10   4.7    56    26.3   118   55.4
effectively and easily complete
assignments on time
As a student, I enjoy working        11   5.2    8        3.8    20   9.4    79    37     95    44.6
with other students in groups
I feel that face-to-face contact     67   31.5   71       33.3   65   30.5   6     2.8    4     1.9
with my instructor is necessary
for learning to occur
I can discuss with other             7    3.3    8        3.8    10   4.7    119   55.8   69    32.4
students      during      Internet
activities outside of class
I can collaborate with other         5    2.3    10       4.7    9    4.2    88    41.3   101   47.5
students      during      Internet
activities outside of class

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Based on Table 2, the results show the student's perception toward skills during online learning in the pandemic
of COVID-19. However, most of the respondents agreed on the accessibility to the internet as needed (n=87)
40.9%, (n=31) 66% for fourth and fifth scale respectively. Around 16% of the respondent disagree on that.
(n=93, 83) with 43.7% and 39% for the respondents who agreed with the comfortability of communicating
electronically. The majority of the respondents also agreed with effectively communicating with their
classmates electronically (n=202, 71), representing 47.4% and 33.4%. Moreover, most students think that their
technical background and experience will benefit them during their online study, with 62.9% (n=134) agreeing
on those statements. Furthermore, the students feel comfortable regarding their online writing communication
with 46.9% (n=100) and 17.8% (n=38), and their computer keyboarding skills for doing their work with 51.2%
(n=109) agreed, and 40.8% (n=87) strongly agreed. However, most of the students feel comfortless in
composing an online text, with 41.3% (n=88) agreed, and 51.2% (n=109) strangle agreed. Overall, students feel
more confident and positive regarding their online platforms skills and face no issues in communicating with
their classmates or instructors. This will enhance their educational performance during online learning and
improve their computer skills.
          According to the student's beliefs, the results show a highly positive perception of their beliefs which
eventually made their online learning journey very easy. However, the student's motivation toward the online
materials is positively high, were 49.9% (n=106) agreed, and 30.5% (n=65) strongly agreed. Moreover, the
student thinks that online learning is the same as face-to-face learning with 41.3% (n=88) agreed and 23.9%
(n=51) strongly agreed. Students agreed that listening skills could be improved during online learning with
33.3% (n=71). On the other hand, some students think the opposite and stated that online learning would not
improve the listening skills as the presence learning with 30% (n=64). The undergraduate student believes that
online learning is more motivated than presence learning which is a very interesting statement with a high
percentage agreed 36.1% (n=72) and 33.8% (n=72) strongly agreed.
          Since online learning took a longer time than everybody thought, the researcher wanted to know the
student's perception toward the complete courses given online, and the results show a high percentage of the
students agreed that the courses given via online platforms are provided without difficulties with 43.7% agreed
and 25.8% strongly agreed. 47.9% strongly agreed that courses could be passed using the online platforms
without the instructor's assistance. However, 30.1% strongly disagree, and 33.3% disagree that the teachers
prepare materials well during online learning, which gives us the fact that teachers tend to be more committed to
preparing the materials in the presence classes than the online classes.
          Additionally, the student's perception toward their self-direction is presented in Table 2 above. The
results show that most of the students are self-directed during online learning, where 37.6% agreed, and 146.9%
strongly agreed with (80 and 100) respondents, respectively. The students have a firm belief in themselves
regarding their disciplines during online learning, with 46% agreed and 34.7 strongly agreed that students are
self-disciplined and found it easy to set aside reading and homework time. On the other hand, students have a
high perception toward their goals and initiative level where 50.2% agreed, and 37.6% strongly agreed that their
goals set and initiative level is high during the online learning. Lastly, students are highly engaged in their
management skills during online learning, such as time management and task commitments. 55.4% of the
respondents agreed, and 26.3% agreed that they could manage their study time effectively and completed their
assignments on time.
          Based on the results regarding the student's perception toward their interaction during their studying
online. The majority of the students agreed in enjoying working online with other groups, with 44.6% strongly
agreed, and 37% agreed. Nevertheless, many students think face-to-face interaction with teachers is unnecessary
for the learning process to be accomplished, where 31.2% strongly disagree, and 33.3% disagree. Moreover,
students believe that online learning does not burden the discussion or collaboration with other students with
55.8% and 41.3%, respectively.

                                              VIII.    Discussion
The majority of the surveyed higher education students have a positive perception of online/digital learning. The
present research has addressed skills, beliefs, self-direction, and interaction to see whether these aspects are
considered an issue to the undergraduate students in Saudi universities or not. The results show that students feel
good about their online learning, and few issues have been faced during the online learning process that could be
immediately solved. The sudden shift from traditional classrooms and face-to-face learning to online learning
has resulted in students' completely different learning experiences. Fortunately, most Saudi students have access
to high-speed or reliable internet services and a good technological experience or background, which helps in
smoothing online learning. According to [36], students from underdeveloped areas are deprived of internet

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     On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is considered asa developing country. Saudi states have easy access to the
internet in all areas. They face no issuesregarding the internet power to facilities that make the online learning
process much easier than other countries. The majority of the universities were able to introduce effective online
classes during the initial months of COVID-19. Survey participants also reported that traditional classroom
learning is similar to online learning or distance education in terms of communication or knowledge.
     Thus, it can be concluded that online learning can produce effective results in developing countries like
Saudi Arabia, where a vast majority of students could access the internet due to high technical awareness. The
COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of the internet and its technological role in our lives, both in
business and educational areas. To ensure an effective and productive online program, students must know how
to cope with the fast-paced online classes, but they also need to have technological skills to learn from online
lectures. For such students managing the study, time is possible, and they do not face any difficulty

                                             IX.      Conclusion
          COVID-19 has an influence on academic institutions all over the world, especially the traditional
learning methods. As an alternative to resuming education, school, college, and university administrations have
chosen online lessons. Online learning is proving helpful in safeguarding students' and faculty's health amid the
COVID-19 pandemic; however, it is as effective as conventional learning. Online learning can produce desired
results for undergraduate students in Saudi Arabia, where a vast majority of students are able to access the
internet due to the high support by the government to provide all the needs to the students in terms of financial
or technical support. This study addressed the effectiveness of online teaching, especially for higher education
students in four big universities in Saudi Arabia. As per this study, 77.5% of students preferred online learning
platforms over traditional learning methods, which might be due to the support of the government, universities,
and families during the pandemic. The other possible reasons for that, students were exciting and motivating to
experience a new way of learning.

         On the other hand, 22.5% of the respondents were referring the traditional face-to-face classes. The
researcher believes that some specialties such as medicine or engineering must be present while taking the class.
Despite the positive results regarding the student's perception of online learning, educational institutes need to
design more appropriate and effective arrange delivery systems and provide digital literacy training to students
who faced difficulties during online learning for better learning outcomes to be achieved. Our findings can aid
the government and other public educational managers with the acceptance, behavior, and trust of their populace
concerning distance learning, and in turn, suggesting the best strategies to help the education sector to improve
more during a public health emergency.

                                X.       Limitation and future suggestions
This study is not free from limitations. Firstly, a small sample size and non-random selection were the major
limitations of this study. The study was not able to generalize the results due to the non-random selection. The
present study suggested increasing the sample size (considering more universities or including post-graduate) or
randomly selecting the respondents from all Saudi universities. Moreover, further studies are needed to explore
more sides of the student‟s preceptive toward online learning during the pandemic of COVID-19, such as
motivation and family support. The study's conclusions are mainly based on students' opinions from higher-
ranked universities of Saudi Arabia; analyzing the opinions of low-ranked universities with limited skills and
less access to the latest digital technologies might produce more critical results.

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